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Posted 1.21.22 in General

Democrats in Congress Push to Move Ahead with Build Back Better Climate Plan – Likely by Breaking Up the Bill

At a news conference at the White House yesterday afternoon, marking the end of his first year in office, President Joe Biden acknowledged what many have been expecting – that Democrats would need to pare down or divide up portions of the Build Back Better Act (BBBA) to pass its package of climate provisions.

“Well, it’s clear to me that we’re going to have to probably break it up,” Biden said. “I’ve been talking to a number of my colleagues on the Hill. I think it’s clear that we would be able to get support for the $500 billion-plus for energy and the environmental issues that are there.” Senator Manchin (D-WV), who previously blocked the BBA by saying he would not vote for it, has indicated that he would support the climate package.

A growing number of Senate democrats and climate advocates are pushing their colleagues to begin paring back and/or breaking up the $1.75 trillion Build Back Better plan to salvage what they can.

Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) says the goal is to assemble pieces that can garner the necessary 50 votes to pass via the budget reconciliation process. “We need to move to pass a package now that has 50 votes,” said Markey, a leading proponent of climate action in Congress. “The climate, justice and clean-energy provisions in Build Back Better have been largely worked through and financed, so let’s start there and add any of the other important provisions to support working families that can meet the 50-vote threshold,” he told Axios. “We need to move from words to action, negotiation to agreement,” he stated.

In agreement was Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.). He told Axios yesterday that “We need to do whatever is possible and make it as broad and inclusive as we can.”

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) told The Washington Post Climate 202 that he didn’t interpret Biden’s comments as endorsing a piecemeal approach, given the rules governing reconciliation, the budget process that Democrats are using to avoid a Senate filibuster. “The way I interpret it,” Khanna said, “the president is saying, ‘Let’s pass what we can and then let’s fight for what we can’t get done.’”

Rep. Khanna went on to say that because of the nature of the Build Back Better reconciliation bill, ”I think we ought to give Sen. Manchin a leadership role in putting something together and seeing what can be a consensus. And I’m confident that we can get robust climate provisions and other provisions. It’s not going to be everything, but we can get something that’s a broad consensus.”

The White House is planning to renew negotiations with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) about how to proceed with the bill, Biden’s chief of staff Ron Klain told the Wall Street Journal.

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